In country of poor, why force costly life support, asks SC

11 March, 2018, 01:59 | Author: Jason Torres
  • SC allows passive euthanasia, upholds 'right to die with dignity'

The top court said that directions and guidelines laid down by it and its directive shall remain in force till a legislation is brought on the issue.

The five-judge bench held that "right to die" peacefully is a part of fundamental right to life as enshrined under Article 21 of Constitution of India.

In Gian Kaur vs State of Punjab Case, the Supreme Court deliberately stated that right to life does not imply a right to death on a person. Bhavna Kapadia, Chief Operating Officer of Dignity Foundation, too said that there was a need to be cautious as there could be hidden reasons why a person wanted to end his/her life.

All forms of euthanasia were illegal in India prior to a court ruling in 2011, which established that in exceptional circumstances terminally ill patients could be removed from life support following a doctor's petition and the court's approval, BBC reported. It is a concept associated with passive euthanasia. Making an interesting analysis of how passive euthanasia is opposed in the country both morally and religiously, the judge voted in its favour citing human dignity and the cost benefit involved in opting for the same.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO, said since a patient in a coma can not express his or her wishes, the law should allow him or her to put down in writing in advance that he or she should not be tortured.

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The "advance directives" can be issued and executed by "next friend and relatives" of terminally ill people but a medical board to take a final call.

"Any individual has the right to decide that he should not take any kind of medical treatment or that he should not be kept alive by any artificial life support systems", Prashant Bhushan, one of the petitioners, told reporters after the hearing.

In Jaipur, Jain muni Tarun Sagar has welcomed the Supreme Court's verdict to allow passive euthanasia which was in consonance with the tenets of Jainism. Thus, this decision by the SC needs to be applauded. "The safeguards that the court has built in should allay fears that some people may have", he said. The person authorising passive euthanasia has to sign the document in the presence of two witnesses, preferably independent; it has to be countersigned by a Judicial Magistrate of First Class (JMFC), who shall preserve one copy in his office besides sending it to the registry of the district judge to retain it in digital format.

The Supreme Court's order - hailed as "historic" by petitioners - means medical treatment can be withdrawn to hasten a person's death, a practice known as passive euthanasia. The next to that year on January 31st, The Supreme Court finally asked the parties to file the documents in support to the matter and after 3 years of that on May7th2011, on a separate plea in the matter of Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India and Others allowed the process of passive euthanasia, where the passive euthanasia was conducted on a nurse who was in a vegetative state for a long time in KEM Hospital in Mumbai.

In the absence of a law authorizing doctors to invoke an advance directive, they keep incurable patients on life support, he said.


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